Pope marks six-month anniversary of Hamas attacks by meeting hostages’ relatives

8 April 2024, 20:04

Vatican Israel Palestinians
Vatican Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

It was the second time Francis has met relatives of the hostages.

Pope Francis on Monday met relatives of hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, marking the six-month anniversary of the attack in southern Israel with an hour-long audience.

The Vatican released photos of the encounter, showing relatives of several of the hostages sitting in a semicircle in front of Francis in his private library in the Apostolic Palace. Each one held a poster with a photo and the name of a loved one.

It was the second time Francis has met relatives of the hostages. On November 22, he met a delegation of Israelis, and then separately a delegation of Palestinians whose relatives had been harmed during the long Middle East conflict.

Vatican Israel Palestinians
Ashley Waxman Bakshi, left, shows a photo of her cousin Agam Berger, one of the hostages being held by Hamas, flanked by Agam’s sister, Li-Yam Berger, during a press conference in Rome (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Francis has called for the immediate release of the hostages and a ceasefire in Gaza, and for humanitarian aid to reach desperate Palestinians urgently.

Ashley Waxman Bakshi, a relative of hostages Agah and Li-Yah Berger, said the audience was “very powerful” for the families.

“He was very clear about his solidarity for the release of the hostages,” Ms Waxman Bakshi told reporters afterwards.

By Press Association

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